AT&T to Offer $50 Netbooks
AT&T will begin selling netbooks with integrated wireless Internet cards, selling them for as low as $50 — with a data plan contract, of course. The rollout will begin in Atlanta and Philadelphia.
AT&T is also looking to enter the e-book market, according a company exec quoted by Bloomberg at the recent trade show in Las Vegas hosted by industry organization CTIA Wireless:
The Kindle, which lets users download books over Sprint Nextel Corp.'s network, has done a "phenomenal job," and AT&T wants to be part of that market, Glenn Lurie, head of emerging devices at AT&T, said today. — Bloomberg.com
Verizon has also expressed interest in entering the e-reader fray, saying it had been approached by five (undisclosed) companies interested in a wireless connection like that of the Kindle.
The takeaway: AT&T's netbook announcement, along with an earlier one from Verizon, suggests these tiny laptops are increasingly being positioned as much as an additional mobile network-connected device as a supplemental computer.
It's unclear if the AT&T exec's remarks on e-readers are anything more than an off-the-cuff response to the success of the Kindle. But the notion of another carrier joining Sprint — the carrier the Kindle uses — in the e-book business is intriguing. Wireless access to content is one of the most compelling aspects of the Kindle, giving it the edge over competitors like the Sony Reader (which we've covered in the past). The other is access to the huge library of e-content — Amazon's 250,000 Kindle titles in the case of the Kindle. And to offer a compelling option to the Kindle, AT&T, Verizon, or any other carrier, will need to find a content partner with a competitive library. It isn't immediately clear who might be able to offer that (perhaps other than Sony, with its Reader library.)